Tipping is a highly cultural practice that varies all over the world. If you’re visiting Europe from abroad, you may be confused as to whether you should — or when you should — tip a waitress, waitor, bellhop or taxicab driver.
Recently, Point Me To The Plane Destinations Expert Sarah Johnson got a question about tipping in Europe, when it’s expected and when it might be surprisingly inappropriate. Sarah spends most of her year on the road in countries around the world, and is here to answer questions about the pitfals and joys of travelling. Email all your burning travel questions to email@example.com.
Question: When Do I Tip In Europe
I’m spending two weeks in Europe this summer with my wife. Some of our friends told us it’s not normal to tip in Europe, but others said that servers expect it. I get a lot of different answers when I Google it! Can you give us some guidance on tipping in Europe?
Answer: When You Feel Like It (Usually)
Hello! What a great question, and you’re right – tipping in Europe is a tricky subject. While it depends a lot on where in Europe you’re traveling, it’s safe for you to assume that you don’t have to tip. Servers get paid a good wage and tipping in most European countries is considered an additional bonus for a job well done. However, I know that’s a pretty vague answer so let me go into detail!
Tipping in Restaurants
Most full service restaurants include service in the bill. In Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, restaurants often list the service charge at the bottom as an added line. If it’s not listed separately, your bill might state “servizio incluso,” meaning the service charge is included in the price of the food.
In Austria, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and other Northern European countries, service charges aren’t normally included on a receipt. Service charges may or may not be added to a bill at fine dining establishment. Either way, servers don’t expect to be tipped extra.
If you dine at a pub or cafe, you don’t have to tip at all. If convenient, you could round up to the nearest euro, leaving one or two as a tip.
The catch here is that if you dine at a touristy restaurant, the staff might expect a tip because all other guests leave one. Americans are famous for overtipping. Still, absolutely do not need to leave a tip if you didn’t feel the service was worth it!
Cash is often the only way to leave a tip; there’s rarely a line on the credit card bill for a tip.
Tipping In Taxi Cabs and Tipping Guides
If you’re taking a taxi anywhere, rounding up to the nearest euro is common, unless you’re heading to the airport or somewhere far, then round up to the nearest five or ten. Porters at hotels generally warrant €1 per bag; housekeeping staff, €1 per day – if you are so inclined.
Travelers with private guides and/or drivers often tip €20-€40 per half day or €30-€50 per full day. If you are part of a guided tour, like Abercrombie & Kent, Tauck, Collette Guided Tours, or another, chances are that tips are included and anything you give would be additional. The tour company ought to give guidelines regarding this!
Curt, I hope that answers your question about tipping in Europe! I understand that there’s a lot of information out there and it’s not all accurate. Safe travels and have a great time!
Do you have questions about travel, about getting around cities, or about packing? Email me, Sarah, with your Ask Anything and keep an eye out for it in a future post!